On Traverse City, Aspen, and Optimism

Earlier this week, I attended an excellent housing panel at the Traverse City Film Festival.

It included local leaders: Seth Johnson (NWMI United Way), Yarrow Brown (Housing North), and Scott Newman-Bale (Short’s/TCAPS) and filmmakers: David Siev (Bad Axe) and Abigail Disney (American Dream and other Fairy Tales).

It was called “When Did Traverse City Become Aspen?” – here are the census facts that Seth used to compare the two towns.

And while some in the audience thought that it was okay that TC was turning into Aspen – I felt most did not.

Like many of my neighbors, I wish TC to be an inclusive, equitable, sustainable, and economically thriving town for all.

What’s next will require concrete, causal solutions – solutions like the Lot O project, reforming exclusionary zoning, building homes on vacant City-owned land, and repealing Prop 3 that continues to hold up nearly 100 homes in lawsuits.

Strong political will, public support, and collective action will be needed to deliver these solutions.

Stubborn optimism on our part is also a must.

Like Coby Lefkowitz writes in his piece, “Building Optimism”

“But yet, I’m hopeful. I’m hopeful because we know how to create places that are fundamentally good for our well being, physical health, mental disposition, economy, safety, social structure, and a host of other metrics. We know how to create joyous, lovely places, which are worthwhile ends in their own rights. North America’s tremendous legacy of high quality urban environments is a testament to this. From Old Quebec, to pockets of Philadelphia, Brooklyn, Charleston, DC, New Orleans, Chicago & dozens more. We’ve done it before.”

Despite many reasons to feel cynical, I’m committed to being hopeful like Coby.

Are you willing to stay optimistic with me?

If so, please help Live TC grow by:

  • forwarding this email to a neighbor
  • posting to social media with #LiveTC
  • sharing our vision, goals, and values with a friend at goodworkslab.org/live
  • writing a pro-housing letter to the editor
  • encouraging a co-worker to attend our next monthly meeting; the second Tuesday of the month at 7p

With hope + optimism,

Ty Schmidt

Good Works Lab founder

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